“Brian Jones has become the first member of the Florida A&M Marching Band to be sentenced after pleading “no contest” to felony hazing charges (Orlando Sentinel). While his sentence does not include jail time, it does include two years of probation, 200 hours of community service, and six months of “community control.” The Judge could have sentenced Jones to up to five years in prison, but at sentencing said that “his life was worth saving. The Judge had earlier described “Jones’ involvement in the hazing as ‘rather minimal.'”
Robert Champion’s Mother, Pamela, was very vocal in her thoughts on Jones’ involvement (ABC News). “The judge had stated that your part in Robert’s death was really minimal, but you and I know that’s not true,” she said. “It will always be there haunting you. We both know that.”
Eleven other defendants have plead “not guilty,” and face trials sometime next year. With this sentence being handed down, it is likely that several of them will seek deals for similar treatment. However, that opportunity may be long gone. Jones plead “no contest,” accepted his responsibility, and was not listed as causing physical damage to Champion. I think the remaining defendants can expect harsher treatment in the courts.
With these upcoming cases, and FAMUs response to the family’s lawsuit, the University can anticipate remaining in the spotlight for quite a long time. They have taken some very strong steps to address hazing, and everyone will be watching for the results, and improvements in the FAMU campus culture.